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ElsaMac

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Win a Copy of 'Mother Daughter Dishes: Reinventing Loved Classics'

I always think of my father when I make cheesecake. Every year for his birthday or Christmas, I would make him a plain, rich New York cheesecake, and every year he greeted it as if it were his favorite present.

Win a Copy of 'Pitt Cue Co.: The Cookbook'

No matter what I grill, I always grill some sort of bread: flatbread cooked completely on the grill, a split baguette brushed with herb oil, pita with garlic butter. The smoky intensity of grilled bread is intoxicating.

Giveaway: Win a Super-Fast Thermapen Thermometer

Bread, almost certainly, and I think I'd go for the color blue.

Win a Copy of 'Vibrant Food'

In its whole, raw state, the artichoke. Sliced or peeled or cooked, beets.

Win a Copy of 'Fruitful: Four Seasons of Fresh Fruit Recipes'

My favorite is strawberries, fresh little local strawberries. My most used is blueberries, the tiny little Maine blueberries I buy at the farmers' market and freeze to eat all winter long.

Cook the Book: 'The Nourished Kitchen' by Jennifer McGruther

Homebaked bread, homemade pie crust, and homemade tortillas. They're all so simple and so much more than the sum of their parts. The storebought counterparts are perfectly fine as vehicles for something else, but the fresh-made homemade versions are something special on their own.

Win a Copy of 'Robicelli's: A Love Story, With Cupcakes'

I am always, always going to zero in on a chocolate cupcake with dark chocolate frosting.

Cook the Book: 'The Homesick Texan's Family Table' by Lisa Fain

Aw, man, now I'm hungry for chicken-fried steak and gravy.

Bake the Book: A Lighter Way to Bake

I think either chocolate mousse or a custardy Napolean, both of which can taste a bit heavy after a full meal, would make a good candidate for lightening.

Cook the Book: 'The VB6 Cookbook' by Mark Bittman

It's not a full meal but a dish that dresses up almost anything, and I make it all the time to serve with simple things: romesco sauce. I make it thin to drizzle over risotto cakes or vegetable fritters or roasted vegetables or thick to serve as a dip, and it makes a luscious sandwich spread. I especially like that it's made mostly from shelf-stable ingredients, so I can have it ready on a moment's notice if I need a vegan dish with some flair.

Cook the Book: 'Simple Thai Food' by Leela Punyaratabandhu

A local noodle house makes a pad kee mao so delicious it makes my eyes roll. I'd love to replicate it.

How to Make the Best Fudgy Brownies

The crispy, glossy top is achieved by whisking the sugar into the eggs long enough for the sugar to start to dissolve.

Aaaand you just solved my problem with a recipe that used to be my favorite. I suppose familiarity made me slack off on the first whisking.

Bake the Book: Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts

I love traditional pavlova or Eton mess, but I also love meringues with ice cream and berries; the contrast of textures and flavors gets even more intense than with fresh whipped cream.

Cook the Book: 'The New Southern Table' by Brys Stephens

I can appreciate the vogue for deconstructing and recontextualizing traditional ingredients to create new dishes, but living in New England, I don't get enough traditional Southern cooking as it is, so I have a voracious appetite for traditional recipes and old standards.

Bake the Book: Teeny's Tour of Pies

I make tiny pies every Thanksgiving. When we're sharing a table with our big families, I make full-sized pies to share and tiny pies so we have some pie waiting for us at home; when The Fella and I spend Thanksgiving alone together, tiny pies guarantee we get to try several flavors without filling our tiny kitchen with pie.

And every year, the answer is the same: pumpkin tartlets for him, blueberry pie for me, apple pie for both of us. Mmm, pie.

Cook the Book: 'Afro-Vegan' by Bryant Terry

If we're talking about family history, I'd say maybe rumbledethumps or colcannon, and maybe a taste of spaetzle and frikadeller and kimchi, which is the only food that my grandmother craved from her childhood in Korea – or maybe it's just the craving that was easiest to satisfy in the small town in New England where she lived all the time I knew her.

Giveaway: Win a Sunday Funday Kit from Mrs. T's Pierogies

It's hard to resist the classic onion & butter, though I do like to add a big bunch of blanched broccoli to the pan, then squirt some lemon over everything.

Cook the Book: 'Yucatán' by David Sterling

The places where my travel dreams and my culinary dreams collide are mostly in Europe, and if I have to choose one, I think it would be Spain and its surrounding region.

A Sandwich a Day: Tuna Melt at the Palace Grill Sandwich Shop

good quality tuna, with nubbins of pickle relish and finely chopped hard-boiled egg

I also have a weakness for tuna melts, and I never knew until just now what a narrow escape I've had; if a restaurant served me a tuna melt with chopped egg and relish in the tuna salad, I'd be very sad. I hope they note the additions on the menu, which would at least save me from disappointment.

… man, now I'm just thinking about tuna melts. And fries.

Cook the Book: 'My Paris Kitchen' by David Lebovitz

The first thing I think of is a baguette, and then I realize you specified an iconic "dish." Well, for me, that means escargots, which I used to eat as often as possible as a child and which I haven't had in years and years. (The handful of places in my town that serve them are too innovative to stick to the nostalgic classic I crave: just snails in garlic-parsley butter.)

Bake the Book: Ample Hills Creamery: Secrets and Stories from Brooklyn's Favorite Ice Cream Shop

Pistachio or, if real pistachio isn't available, my general guideline is "chocolate with something in it or something with chocolate in it."

Cook the Book: 'Joy of Kosher' by Jamie Geller

The dairy-only kosher deli where I used to go most Sundays had a lot of treats I loved: the knish, the black & white cookie, the mandelbrot. But hands-down, my favorite was the cream cheese, which isn't thickened with gelatin, so it's lusciously smooth and creamy. Whatever else I bought to take home, I always spent a happy morning there over a toasted sesame bagel with scallion cream cheese, a creamy cup of coffee, and a copy of the local paper.

Bake the Book: Frenchie

My "favorite" will change from day to day, but lately I've been craving moules marinieres, with a crusty baguette to soak up all the luscious broth and a big, bright pile of arugula on the side.

Cook the Book: 'The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone' by Deborah Madison

Picking our household's favorite is asking too much, so I'll pick a vegetarian dish that's most-often requested for family holidays by non-vegetarians: Deborah Madison's butternut squash galette with caramelized onions and garlic in a yeasted olive oil dough. I like to serve it with something green and fresh and simple, like Brussels sprouts or broccoli tarted up with a little lemon.

Cook the Book: Lonely Planet's 'The World's Best Spicy Food'

I'm embarrassed to say I have no idea what it was. My then-partner and I, neither of whom speaks any Korean, were at a Korean restaurant where no one spoke English. We muddled through ordering by indicating a few dishes on the menu; I wondered at the time if our server took pity on us and balanced out our choices a bit, or if we just got lucky.

Most of the food was delicious, but one meat dish was bright red with peppers and so hot it hurt my mouth. Now I suspect that we could have tamed it to a pleasant burn by being less shy with the banchan, but we didn't know that then. We kept trying, but at the end we ate every scrap of our meal except that one brimming-full bowl of spicy meat, and our server laughed and laughed.

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